National Lutheran News

Seven Lutheran groups meet this summer

A wide range of issues occupied voting members

AFLC: New parishes, new catechism

Meeting June 12-15 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, members of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations:

* Elected Pastor Michael Brandt of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to a one-year term as vice president. Pastor Brian Davidson was re-elected secretary.

* Welcomed six new member congregations, one each from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

* Installed the Rev. Jason Holt as Director of AFLC Youth Ministries.

* Dedicated a new edition of Luther’s Small Catechism and Explanation. The new Catechism involves updated language, added introductions and supplementary Scripture verses.

* Announced that ap-proximately $400,000 is still owed on the Bible School’s Heritage Hall and began a search for 400 people committed to giving $1,000 each over four years so that the debt may be retired.

* Elected a new president (see another story).

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CLB: Funds increase

Meeting June 17-20 in Marysville, Washington, delegates to the convention of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren:

* Learned that giving is turning around and looking positive this year.

* Commissioned three missionaries for service in Chad (Africa).

* Welcomed a new mission congregation in Wesley Chapel, Florida, into membership.

* Installed Dr. David Veum as president of Lu-theran Brethren Seminary.

* Re-elected their national president for an additional three-year term (see page 3).

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ELS: Three new congregations

Meeting June 17-21 in Mankato, Minnesota, voting delegates to the convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS):

* Adopted an annual budget of $796,464.

* Received three new congregations into membership, in Frankenmuth, Michigan; Roseau, Minnesota; and Rogers, Minnesota.

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AALC: Fellowship with LCMS

Meeting June 20-22 in Arden Hills, Minnesota, delegates to the convention of the American Association of Lutheran Churches:

* Declared fellowship with the LCMS, recognizing agreement in doctrine and practice between the two church bodies (the LCMS ratified the same action during its July convention).

* Elected a new president (see another story).

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LCMS: Ablaze!initiative continues

Meeting July 14-18 in Houston, Texas, delegates to the LCMS Convention, a gathering which convenes every three years:

* Affirmed the ongoing LCMS Ablaze! initiative, with 32 of 35 districts having signed on and 571 congregations (out of 2,000) aligned as partners; Ablaze! had, as of July 15, seen over 5 million people confronted with the Gospel.

* Asked the Commission on Worship to provide guidance and direction for the use of contemporary worship resources.

* Approved a resolution supporting adult stem-cell research that does not involve the destruction of human life.

* Created a staff position to direct strategic development of Hispanic ministries.

* Approved a new seminary track for “specific ministry pastors” in order to meet urgent mission needs within the Synod; the category includes “church planter” or evangelist, and the program may be completed within two years.
n Re-elected its incumbent national president for a third three-year term (see another story).

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WELS: Focus on expanding missions

Meeting July 30–August 3 at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota, voting delegates attending the convention of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS):

* Added $600,000 to the annual denominational budget for World Missions and $2 million for ministerial education. Outgoing Presi-dent Karl Gurgel said paying for the increase would require congregations to increase mission offerings by $3-4 million annually.

* Called for a special stewardship effort to emphasize long-term spiritual growth.

* Authorized a special offering to reduce synodical debt.
n Rejected a proposal to close Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw at the end of the 2008 school year.

* Elected a new president (see another story).

* * *

ELCA: Concerns about Iraq and Darfur

Meeting August 6-11 in Chicago, Illinois, voting members at the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA, a gathering which convenes every other year:

* Voted opposition of an escalation of the war in Iraq and called for moral deliberation about the conflict.

* Urged Lutherans nationwide to study the situation in Darfur and lobby U.S. officials to seek an end to the genocide there.

* Elected David Swart-ling of Seattle, Washington, second secretary of the denomination and honored the retiring incumbent, the Rev. Lowell Almen.

* Approved a social statement on education.

* Rolled out two new communication initiatives, including an advertising campaign to be launched first in Denver, Colorado.

* Committed itself to a goal of reaching $20 million in World Hunger Appeal funds “as soon as possible.”
n Declared full communion partnership with the Moravian Church in America.

* Celebrated the 100th anniversary of Lutheran Campus Ministry and the 20th anniversary of the founding, in 1987, of the ELCA.

* Established a five-year initiative, “Book of Faith: Lutherans Read the Bible,” which will be coordinated by Augsburg Fortress Publish-ers, the ELCA publishing house, and energized by Luther Seminary professor Diane Jacobson.

* Re-elected for a second six-year term its incumbent presiding bishop (see another story).

* Extended more energy on questions of sexuality and ordained ministry than on any other issue. Voting members considered four proposals, approving one (see another story).